November 7th, 2019
Dear Members of Provincial Parliament,
Welcome back to the legislature. In the months you’ve been away, a lot has happened.
An estimated million Canadians marched in the streets this fall to demand stronger action on climate change, sparked by youth fighting for their future. Climate change became a top election issue in the federal election, with almost 70 percent of MPs elected in Ontario supporting a price on carbon and stronger climate action. Thirty elected Ontario councils have now declared climate emergencies, including Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, Barrie, and Hamilton. Canadian doctors and health professionals continued to warn that adverse mental and physical health impacts from heat waves, wildfires, air pollution, floods, and vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease will escalate exponentially without ambitious steps to reduce emissions quickly.
While calls for climate action escalate across our province, Ontario’s government has fallen drastically behind. In the last year we’ve seen the destruction of every program that made Ontario a leader on climate change action. And we’ve seen this government go into hibernation on a crisis that threatens the future of our friends and loved ones.
Instead of ramping up action after the IPCC’s groundbreaking report asking all governments to do more, Ontario weakened their 2030 climate change target and spent a year largely failing to implement effective solutions, even those promised in the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan.
It’s time for you, as elected officials entrusted with the well-being of your communities, to listen to your constituents, your children, your loved ones, and the youth demanding action and answers every Friday. We are asking you to take leadership to ensure a healthy future on a habitable planet. A leader doesn’t walk away from a crisis because it requires hard work. We are asking you to do the work. We are asking you to lead.
We, the undersigned, call on you to accelerate and strengthen Ontario’s action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to implementing the measures promised in the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan, we call on you to prioritize the following actions:
- Strengthen Ontario’s 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target to match what scientists say will keep warming to 1.5 degrees.
- Drop Ontario’s expensive and regressive legal challenge of the federal carbon pricing system.
- Work collaboratively with all governments to accelerate effective climate solutions.
- Convene an expert advisory group to provide informed, independent oversight on designing and implementing effective climate change action, ensuring this group includes reputable climate scientists, policy experts, clean technology experts, indigenous communities, health professionals, workers, and other communities heavily impacted by climate change.
- As promised, redirect the estimated $1 billion in remaining cap-and-trade revenues from general government spending to its intended purpose of funding programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Stop cutting existing programs and legislation to protect a safe climate and a healthy environment with hasty and destructive legislation like Bill 132, Bill 66, and Bill 108
These actions are only the beginning; a frame to help move forward to address the climate crisis in a serious way. Many effective, evidence-based ideas have been put on the table in recent years, and many of them have worked in other jurisdictions or right here in Ontario. Evidence shows that many of these climate solutions are good for our economy, public health, and our environment. Instead of denying and fighting this evidence, we need our leaders to make informed, responsible decisions to safeguard the health and well-being of their citizens.
We call on this provincial government to take the climate crisis seriously, and get to work implementing effective solutions.
For more information or to add your organization’s signature to this letter, contact Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy Program Manager, Environmental Defence